24 May 2021

 

I have held 14 mobile offices in my electorate of Lilley this year, and I have spoken to countless Northsiders, from all walks of life, who have become energised enough about a particular issue that they want to talk to their federal member at, for example, a park on a Saturday morning. We really have rub the gamut of local issues in that time. Amongst the 14 mobile offices that I've done this year alone, there really has been one common theme, a golden thread that connects each suburb on the Northside, and that is that we want security and the opportunity for ourselves and our families to prosper. It's that simple. After almost a decade of flat wages being decimated by our rising cost of living people feel like they just can't get ahead no matter how hard they work. After eight long years in government, the Morrison government's latest budget offers no respite on that front, no respite for Northsiders at all. Instead it guarantees low growth, it guarantees low productivity, it guarantees low wages and it instils $1 trillion worth of debt.

Affordable housing is fundamental to our individual and collective security and our prosperity. Like my colleague the Member for Macnamara said in his report examining Australia's housing sector:

We know that a house is bigger than its four walls—it gives each Australian a stake in the collective success of our economy.

Workers are being told that with some grit and determination the dream of home ownership can become a reality, but the reality is many are struggling to keep up with their weekly rent payments, let alone having any leftover income to tuck away for a housing deposit, particularly one at 20 per cent of the purchase price. Before COVID hit 30 per cent of renters on the north side of Brisbane reported difficulty even keeping up with their rent each week. That is 6,400 households whose budgets were strained just paying the rent each week whilst trying keep up the other necessities like bills, utilities, school expenses and child care.

On top of this, skyrocketing property values means home ownership is becoming increasingly out of reach. Today the journey towards home ownership for ordinary working people is exponentially more difficult than it has been for people in the past. The pathway to home ownership no longer begins and ends with hard work and careful saving, but with an investment property to build capital, a portfolio of shares to offset tax, a timely inheritance, or a generous loan from the 'bank of mum and dad'. In this context, it is not surprising that home ownership rates are plummeting among people under 45 years of age and especially for people between 25 and 40 years of age. Home prices have climbed an inflation adjusted 150 per cent, while inflation adjusted wages have climbed only 30 per cent. This is an issue only compounded by the Morrison government handing out tax incentives to investors, giving owner-occupiers and first home buyers price competition they did not previously have to face.

I was recently contacted by Chris, who is a Zillmere local, who was done over by a greedy developer who negated his contract to buy a block of land to fetch a higher price. Chris is now out-of-pocket five grand as well as losing his right to the first home buyers grant. Chris said: 'We're not investors. We're just a small family trying to buy our own home and we've now been completely priced out of the market by the greed of developers who are trying to chase a quick buck. I'm completely devastated. I have worked hard for over 15 years trying to save that deposit and now, as a 35-year-old, that dream is just continually being pushed further and further back.'

The housing market is not going to fix itself and challenging vested interests won't be easy, but meaningful progress will be impossible as long as we have this federal government that is unwilling to lay down a comprehensive and ambitious vision for housing. The answer to the housing crisis is not weakening lending laws and it's not asking people to raid their superannuation, their future, for a deposit. These measures only lead to property prices being pushed further up.

The key to fixing the housing crisis is to reduce the skyrocketing overvaluation of property, it's to boost wages and it's to reduce household debt. The second step is to build new, affordable housing—and that's why we have an affordable housing deficit of massive proportions, a construction and building industry desperately in need of work, an abundance of housing that could be repaired and renovated and a community housing sector ready for diversity and growth. Only an Albanese Labor government will improve housing affordability and secure better housing outcomes for all hardworking Australians. We are on Chris's side, we are on the Northsiders side and we are hustling— (Time expired)